Passing through the centre of Lurgan in County Armagh last night (Tuesday) on my way back to Belfast from Clogher, I was thinking of Martin O’Hagan. The 51 year-old Sunday World reporter was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries as he made his way home from a pub in the town centre, along with his wife Marie. It happened on a Friday night, September 28th 2001. The “Red Hand Defenders” a cover name used by the UVF claimed responsibility. No-one has yet been prosecuted for the murder of Martin, the only journalist to be killed during the conflict in the North. In January this year the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions announced that there would be no prosecution in relation to the killing, a decision that was criticised by the NUJ.
Today I was in Dublin where the International Federation of Journalists is holding its 28th world congress at Dublin Castle on the theme “Leading the Global Fightback”. Kevin Cooper and myself ran an information stand at lunchtime for the delegates about journalist safety. It was the theme of a conference in Belfast organised by the Belfast and District Branch of the NUJ in September 2011, at which the anniversary of Martin O’Hagan’s death was commemorated. Copies of the report of that conference will be available at the stall at Printworks. It also coincided with another conference on the safety of media workers held in Belfast’s Linenhall Library this morning, organised by Gerry Carson, Secretary of the NUJ Belfast & District Branch.
This evening a simple commemoration took place.
Standing Up for Journalism:
Delegates assembled on the steps of the Printworks at 7pm following close of business for a series of symbolic events demonstrating our commitment to journalism while commemorating those who have died in the service of our profession since 27th World Congress 2010
19.10 Distribution of floral tributes
19.20 Wreath laying at Veronica Guerin monument, Dubh Linn Garden, Dublin Castle
19.30 Freedom Walk to Dublin City Hall
19.50 Arrival at Dublin City Hall
20.00 Welcome by Gerry Curran, Cathaoirleach, Irish Executive Council, NUJ
20.10- 21.30: Reception and social evening